Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of China Ltd. “will pay attention to” merger and acquisition opportunities overseas as it follows Chinese corporate clients into new markets, President Li Lihui said after opening a branch in Japan.
China’s third-largest lender by total assets will also add branches in markets where it already has a presence, Li was cited as saying in the transcript of an interview posted to the bank’s website yesterday. Bank of China sees further opportunities in Japan arising from trade between the two countries, he said.
“Asia will be the major area where Bank of China wants to increase its focus,” Li said. “The bank will concentrate on areas where Chinese companies are expanding abroad. We will also pay attention to regions such as central and eastern Europe, areas where we didn’t have much coverage in the past.”
Bank of China, the only Chinese lender identified last month as one of 29 systemically important global banks that must hold additional capital, has overseas operations in 31 countries, Hong Kong and Macau, Li said in the interview.
Larger rival Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. agreed in August to buy assets in Argentina for $600 million, and the Financial Times reported last month that China Construction Bank Corp. was holding talks to buy a small Brazilian lender.
Chinese banks face “stress” in their home market as asset quality worsens and they are required to support weaker customers, Fitch Ratings said Dec. 2. Bank of China in October posted its slowest profit growth in nine quarters as government efforts to cool inflation curbed loan demand.
--Editors: Mohammed Hadi, Ovais Subhani
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